Commodities: gold, silver, lead, copper, mercury, arsenic
The Tuscarora district is at the town of Tuscarora on the southeastern slope of Mount Blitzen in the Tuscarora Range. The district was organized to include placers along McCann Creek below Beard Hill in the western part of the present district. The district was enlarged to include lode mines in and north of the present town of Tuscarora and now also includes Berry Basin, west of McCann Creek.
Browne, 1868, p. 429-430; Whitehill, 1873, p. 24; Whitehill, 1879, p. 17; Angel, 1881, p. 395; Hill, 1912, p. 205; Lincoln, 1923, p. 57; Stoddard, 1932, p. 35; Gianella, 1945, p. 48; Granger and others, 1957, p. 150; La Heist, 1964, p. 66; Smith, 1976, p. 160; LaPointe and others, 1991, p. 211
Tuscarora Placer District Description
Southeast slope of Mount Blitzen in the Tuscarora Range, Tps. 39and40N.,R.51E.
Tuscarora and Mount Blitzen 15-minute quadrangles.
Granger, Bell, Simmons, and Lee, 1957, Reconnaissance geologic map of Elko County, Nevada (pi. 1), scale 1:250,000. Nolan, 1936, Sketch map of Tuscarora mining district, Elko County, Nevada (pi. 1), scale 1 3/4 in = 2,000 feet.
From Elko, 45 miles northwest on State Highway 11 to junction with State Highway 18; from there, it is 10 miles west to Tuscarora on State Highway 18.
The placers in the Tuscarora district are largely confined to the low hills southwest of Tuscarora and north of McCann Creek (secs. 3 and 4, 9 and 10, T. 39 N., R. 51 E., Tuscarora quadrangle). Both hillside and gulch gravels were placered to depths of 4—10 feet. Other placers were worked on the south side of Beard Hill (sec. 7, T. 39 N., R. 51 E., Mount Blitzen quadrangle).
The Tuscarora placers were discovered in 1867 by the Beard brothers, Mr. McCan (sic), and Mr. Heath, prospectors from Austin. They found gold in small quantities for 3 miles along McCann Creek. News of the discovery reached Austin, and soon an influx of miners led to the discovery of placers and lodes in the hills north of the creek. Nuggets weighing 1 ounce were commonly found in the shallow gravel. Most of the early work was done by sluicing; to aid these operations, ditches were built to carry water 3-6 miles to the placers.
The placer ground was turned over to Chinese miners in 1869, when the American miners began work on the silver mines to the north at Tuscarora. The Chinese placer miners reportedly recovered $2 to $15 per day per man. Early estimates of placer production stated that the placers yielded gold valued at about $7 million, but Nolan (1936b, p. 14), after studying production records, concluded that placer production did not exceed $700,000.
The placers have been worked only sporadically during the 20th century. The largest recovery was in 1902, 1905, and 1909; in other years, very small amounts of gold were recovered. The operation in 1909 was hydraulic mining by the Nevada Hydraulic Mining and Milling Co., which owned 480 acres of placer ground where the gravels ranged in depth from 4 to 15 feet. The value of the gravels was said to range from $1 to $3.50 per cubic yard, but the small amount of gold recovered indicates that the operation was not a financial success.
The gold in the placers was derived from the small gold veins and stringers in bedded volcanic rocks in the area southwest of Tuscarora. The age of mineraliaztion is 38 m.y. (late Eocene or early Oligocene). The lode-gold deposits are confined to this area, as are the placers. Parts of the hillside gravels may have been residual concentrations of gold, as reports of the Nevada Hydraulic Mining and Milling Co. indicate that a gold ledge was found below placer gravels. The U.S. Geological Survey began (1970) studying this area in detail.
Browne, 1868: Discovery history; early placer-mining operations; production; distribution of gold.
Emmons, 1910: History; production; distribution of gold; size of gold; early placer-mining operations.
Lincoln, 1923: History.
Martin, 1931 : Production estimates; early history of placer discovery and mining.
Mining World, 1907b: Plans of Nevada Hydraulic Mining and Milling Co. to work placer ground; acres owned; depth of gravel; average value of gravel.
Nolan, 1936b: History; early production estimates (revises Emmons, 1910 estimate) ; locates placer claims; placer-mining operations in 1932; source of placer gold in that operation; source of placer gold in old placer operations.
Roberts and others, 1971: Age of mineralization in district.
Vanderburg, 1936a: Early history and production; extent of placered area; names richest gulches; depth of gravel; size of gold particles; size of largest nugget found; source; placer-mining operations during the period 1931-35; indicates potential dredging ground based on report by Emmons (1910).
Whitehill  : Placer mining during the period 1869-72; number of miners; average yield per day per man.